Back in college, I started spotting birds. I could identify more than 50 species of birds on India’s west coast.
Most of my friends could never understand this though. They saw no purpose behind learning these bird names. A bird was a bird to them. What difference did it make whether it was called a red-wattled lapwing or a racket tailed drongo?
Knowing a name is the first step towards understanding and engagement. It signifies an interest and a willingness to learn more. By calling somebody by their name, we recognize them and care enough about them. At first, I learnt the names of these birds. But later, I could identify the metallic call of a red-wattled lapwing from half a kilometer away. I also learnt that the drongos can imitate the call of more than 50 other bird species.
This applies equally to social problems that we care about and wish to address. The name “holocaust” brings to mind a particular dark period in history. That is certainly a start.
Political correctness is an illness of our present, touchy times. While it pretends to care about social problems, it brushes them under the carpet. It lacks the courage necessary to name, identify and engage with them.
Racism exists. But with political correctness, but we pretend that it does not. Heck, we do not even mention another person’s race. Instead we paint every person with the colour of burying our heads in the ground.
The problem with political correctness is that it is grounded in cowardice and evasiveness. Its proponents and dictators share a common trait – a belief that a problem can be solved by denying its existence.